How HP Hunts for the Next Big Channel Opportunity

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When it comes to spotting the next big channel opportunity, The VAR Guy keeps tabs on Hewlett-Packard VP of Channel Strategy and SMB Meaghan Kelly. Indeed, Kelly (pictured) is leveraging an HP Startup and VC Council to uncover new opportunities for HP and its SMB channel partners. Is the strategy working? Take a look...

Among the recent results: Building a strong business relationship with angel investor Justin Moore, CEO of storage vendor Axcient. Some of The VAR Guy's loyal readers already know portions of the HP-Axcient story, as reported on sister sites MSPmentor and TalkinCloud. Roughly 200 HP partners now leverage Axcient's cloud storage service, generating $500,000 in combined annual recurring revenues for the MSPs. Moore sees the HP relationship as a way to gain economies of scale on hardware as Axcient focuses on software R&D and a pure channel cloud strategy.

Next Moves?

But the deeper story involves the HP Startup and VC council. "Living in Silicon Valley, it’s really important to reach out to great entrepreneurs and VCs," said Kelly. "We went out and looked for the most influential members for the council. Justin [Moore] was mentioned over and over again by our sources. So we pulled him onto the council."

Indeed, Moore has launched three or four technology companies -- The VAR Guy has lost count. Plus, he's an advisor to Skydera Inc. -- which develops security and user management software for public and private clouds. Hmmm... The VAR Guy speculates: Has HP's Kelly considered a potential partnership with Skydera? Stay tuned...

How Innovations Reach the Channel

When Kelly spots a startup that can potentially help channel partners, she connects the dots between the HP Startup and VC Council, and the HP SMB Advisory Council. The SMB council, representing some of HP's top VARs, took a look at Axcient's cloud storage solution and "got excited," said Kelly, who expects to repeat the trend with more startups in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, Kelly has also championed HP SMB Central, a web site and forum that allows HP partners to gather go-to-market tips for a range of HP solutions. In the weeks and months ahead, it's safe to expect HP to profile key startups on SMB Central. (See The VAR Guy FastChat Video, below.)


Lingering Concerns

Still, HP has to win over some skeptics when it comes to innovative partnerships and R&D. Under former HP CEO Mark Hurd, HP cut research and development spending -- a move that rivals like IBM have criticized. But new HP CEO Leo Apotheker is talking up HP's commitment to innovation and startup businesses -- pointing to efforts like the HP Startup Central.

Regardless, perhaps the better example is the HP Startup and VC Council. The VAR Guy is watching to see who joins next...

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